We left Lava Tower after a filling lunch and had a two-hour walk down from 15,190 feet (4629 m) to Barranco Camp at 12,960 feet (3950 m) where we would spent the night. From every angle, the summit of Kilimanjaro loomed reminding me of how much work I’d done and how much more remained.
Almost instantly, the landscape began to dramatically change from black volcanic rock to high alpine desert land. What amazed me the most about this part of the hike were the amazing trees and scrubs, some of which are endemic to Kilimanjaro and are magnificent.
The hike down was rocky and steep yet truly surreal. We stopped many times along the way to take pictures of the amazing views and highly unusual and exotic plants and scrubs. After several days on the mountain, it still astounded me how different it was the further we went up.
The Senecio Kilimanjaro and the Lobelia decKenii are two types of trees found along the path to Barranco Camp. The plants first appeared on the slopes of Kilimanjaro over one million years ago and are perhaps the most unusual trees I’d ever seen.
It was only my third day on the mountain, sleeping in a tent without a shower or any luxuries of home. Yet I felt more alive than I had in months. I was in my element, doing what I love and on one of the most sensational places on earth.
I loved all the different views of the summit and how the clouds and light enhanced the mood. I wondered what it would be like up on top and how I’d feel. Would I make it there without feeling sick? How cold would it be? What would it be like to be on top of Africa’s highest peak?
Finally as afternoon begins to fade, we approached Barranco Camp and there is never anything more welcoming than the first sight of the camp in the distance telling us we are soon about to arrive. My legs felt great and I still had energy. But I couldn’t wait to take off my hiking boots and let my swollen feet relax and breathe.
Once again the views at Barranco Camp are stunning and equally as gorgeous as the night before at Shira Camp. I was pleasantly surprised that there could be another place as lovely as the night before.
I sat outside and took pictures of the lowering sun. The light cast a golden hue over the summit and the clouds became alive with brilliance and danced in the changing light.
The next day would be short but intense. We would set out to climb over the Barranco Wall and head to our next camp, Karanga at 13,780 feet. The hike would only take about three hours but it would be strenuous.